Published: August 28th 2006August 19th 2006
Too bad they weren't full.
After four chaotic days and nights in Tokyo, we boarded a speedy Shinkansen train and hauled ass to Osaka, heart of the Kansai region and jumping off point to see the culture and history of Japan.
The citizens of Osaka are revered in travel literature as friendly, down to earth people. Frankly, I thought they were just a bunch of assholes. Rude, pushy, and in a rush to get places it seems, as they were constantly darting in your path and making you change direction. That's when you discover the joys of a huge backpack handy for smushing people into doorways as they try to cut in front of you on train platforms. And if you're reading this, I saw you trying to squeeze through on my left, bitch.
Osaka is essentially just another big Japanese city, with nothing to offer the traveler except connections to more interesting places, and the Umeda Sky Building
, one of the coolest skyscrapers I've ever seen. Its two 40-storey towers connect at the top and there's an outdoor observatory 173m above ground that commands a 360-degree view of the city. But getting to the top is only half the fun, as you ride
Think 'Arc de Triomphe' only much bigger and way cooler.
a see-through elevator before catching a floating escalator to the Sky Gallery. Not recommended for the acrophobic.
We spent the night in a capsule hotel, one of the few that accepts women. We did it just to say we did it. And we did it, so now we never have to do it again. It was nice and cozy, felt like we were in a space ship, but our bunkmates were a tad noisy and unhygienic. Not recommended for the claustrophobic.
With a day to kill before Kyoto, we hopped on a train to Nara
, a small city east of Osaka filled with the sort of attractions that draw tourists and their money. Nara is a quiet place with a wonderful assortment of historical buildings that capture the early days as the first real capital of Japan. Only Kyoto has more to offer as a showcase of traditional Japanese history and culture. Most of the sites are located near the train station, making for an easy day of walking and chasing excitable deer through the park while yelling "TIMMY!" and trying to smack their bums. I told Denise to stop, but you know how she gets sometimes.
Part of the Kasuga Taisha, nestled in the wooded hills of Nara-koen.
The temples and shrines are prominent and impressive, but are too similar to what we've seen already to be affecting. One exception might be the Todai-ji Daibutsu-den, the world's largest wooden structure. I was about to dispute the claim, but Denise pointed out that it was made from several pieces of wood, not just one. Pictures don't do this building justice, and we found it difficult to capture its scope on film. It should be noted that there's a huge-sized Buddha inside, one of the largest bronze figures in the world. No word on whether it's the largest indoor
, bronze, seated Buddha though.
Most of our day was spent in Nara-koen (not recommended for the scatophobic), an actual park with grass and everything - quite an uncommon occurrence in Japan, considering the majority of the country is slathered in concrete. We took advantage of the scenery to take some pictures and taunt some deer. It's also worth noting the numerous benches within the park. Japan falls very short on supplying its citizens with public seating. And while I'm bitching, some more garbage cans would be nice too.
Did you catch the penis joke? Camille & Denise
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